Two of those retirees, Margaret and Peter Hegarty, moved into their home in 2005 using their retirement savings. They had no idea that the home had been illegally built. Despite reassurances from the builder, demolition orders were issued in 2009.
Since 2009, the couple has hired a lawyer and are trying to get compensation. In October 2013, a court ruled in favor of the Hegartys and awarded them compensation, but the ruling is not enforceable. The ruling merely sets the amount of compensation but cannot force the payment to take place.
In 2011, the Hegartys moved back to the UK and now live in a rented house near Edinburgh.
“I think they’re just waiting for us to die off now,” Mrs. Hegarty told The Telegraph. “Then they don’t have to worry about paying us. They’re just getting on with their lives, no remorse. They just don’t care. They’ve got the money, and that’s it.”
Illegally built homes in Spain are not uncommon, as hundreds of homeowners in the region face similar legality problems. Since 2008, 16 homes have been razed in Andulsia. Three more British-owned homes are facing demolition there, with hundreds more at various stages of legal proceedings and an estimated 300,000 illegally built.
Many of the illegally built homes in Spain were raised during the height of Spain’s building boom. Many developers were paying off local officials to approve permits for homes that did not meet various regulations or requirements. Short prison sentences was issued to a mayor who was issuing false permits as well as a promoter of a development that was involved in the scheme.